Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture Series: Deborah Butterfield and Horse Sculptures



good evening welcome to the Smithsonian American Art Museum I'm Karen lemmy curator a sculpture here can you all hear me great it gives me great pleasure to introduce Deborah Butterfield our speaker for tonight's Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture in American art before we begin our program please silence your cell phones and other electronic pets we're recording this event and sharing video on the museum's website in case you wish to hear it again or share it with friends who could not join us Deborah Butterfield has agreed to answer a few questions afterwards so please present your questions at either of the two microphones positioned midway in both aisles as we'd like for our online audiences to hear our conversation as well at the conclusion of the program I hope you will all join us for a brief reception upstairs in Co God courtyard the Smithsonian American Art Museum established the Clarice Smith distinguished lectures in American Art in 2004 to present new insights from the perspectives of the finest artists critics and scholars this annual series is made possible by the generosity of Clarice Smith who is with us tonight Thank You Clarice I'd also like to tank that to take a moment to thank our director director Betsy Barone for her leadership in developing this incredible series over the last 13 years now on to our guest speaker Deborah Butterfield who was born in San Diego as it's well known on the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby an auspicious start as horses are so central to her work she attended the Skowhegan school of painting and sculpture in Maine and earned a BA an MFA from University of California Davis a place renowned for its art department which included Butterfield's teachers Wayne Tebow William Wiley Manuel nari all of whom I'm proud to say are represented in our Museum collection Butterfield's work has been the subject of several major museum exhibitions including those at the Denver Art Museum in the Seattle Art Museum and her work may be found in permanent collections too numerous to mention as well as many public sites such as airports and university campuses she divides her time between studios in Hawaii Montana and the Walla Walla foundry in Washington State which we've learned at lunchtime was a veritable hotbed for contemporary artists today sculptures sculpted horses run wild through the history of art from the life-size renderings buried alongside Chinese terracotta warriors and 200 BC to Marcus Aurelius 'iz Monument presiding over ancient Rome countless equestrian sculptures of the Renaissance and of course American arts owned Frederick Remington or for that matter the many monuments in Washington Butterfield's horses are altogether different from those war horses saddled by military generals and the weight of history although at times her horses also refer to specific world events for example those she made early on in her career as a quiet form of protest during the Vietnam War and most recently three sorrows made in part from the flotsam jetsam retrieved after the triple tragedy earthquake tsunami a nuclear disaster that shook Japan in 2011 butterfield portrays this powerful and alluring creature on its own terms embodying the spirit of the animal on which human civilization has heavily depended for so long but each one of her horses also moves beyond or perhaps I should say through its subject to offer an array of contrasts the overall form unmistakeably recognizable as a horse is also an extraordinary study in abstraction each one conveys a sense of gesture and motion as well as quietude and stillness each one carries the solidity and mass of its subject while simultaneously drawing our attention to its negative spaces within Mona Cana Butterfield's sculpture in our collection intertwines references to Hawaii Montana and Washington State and invites one to shut out for a moment the battle cries of our modern life and to contemplate in quietude the power of art as a universal means of communication invite you to all see it on the third floor sometime I'd like to welcome Deborah Butterfield thank you can you hear me with this lovely er yes wow that was really good I think you should just keep talking thank you that was really lovely oh thank you guys for coming tonight I wanted to read a couple of things before I start I'll give you a good picture there we go this was in the day of film and we didn't know that he had stuck his tongue out for this picture Joey we got it developed yeah he was very excited that's Willy William Wiley one of my teachers and dear friend and someone whom I admire so much wrote a poem for a cattle of log of mine many many years ago and I'd like to read it it's called our equestrian who has not loved horses who has not been terrified by horses who has not been drawn by horses who has not been ridden petted been thrown by horses never not even in dreams not ever way back almost before you remember you never took a pencil or wrote a stick and imagined you never being so small where ever swung up faster than an elevator leaves your stomach to find yourself sitting on the living warm powerful fur skin bones and mind finally ready to go anywhere you never act or cried over black beauty the finish line Manowar Flicka I don't believe it you're lying look at Debbie's horses you'll remember PS these are not horses and then Wiccan Stein said I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse I only owe it to the horses good nature that I am NOT thrown off at this very moment all right can we turn the lights down a bit all right well most of my speech has been said really I was born on the day that ponder won and he was sired by pensive so I thought it was very appropriate there's a few seats in the middle right here guys so I went to UC Davis in 1970 wanting to do ceramics with Bob Arneson and when I got there he said that we don't do pots in the university we only do sculpture if you want to make pots you have to do that at night on your own time and so I did and of course that's all he ended up critiquing was my pots Bob just didn't like bad pots and I ended up becoming his TA and adored and admired him as well so my first few slides are of pieces they're life-size ceramic saddles that I made in graduate school and it was before I fest up to being a horse lover I'd been teased a lot by drawing horses and loving horses and in school and so I was trying to go straight you know and but I ended up living for free on a thoroughbred farm for feeding the horses in the morning and so I got to ride them and I was really fascinated by how these useful objects looked when they weren't being used and and also drawn to the patterning of the carving in the leather and how much he reminded me of Chinese ceramics and how you carve clay when it's leather hard so this was the first piece I had to build a ceramic horse back and fire it and it's in three parts the stirrups the leggings and then the the saddle itself it was quite a complicated task for ceramics and this is a piece that really led to I think my reclining horses and but it was also a joke there were so many I got so many so much teasing about making saddles they were so sexual and the court you know according to my teasers and so I just this was just to to tease back and the idea of drapery and classic sculpture how it reveals the form by concealing it but it also was again this idea of an object asleep not doing its job I had always wanted to be a Chinese Potter from another dynasty and not being able to pull that off I I couldn't make fake Chinese pots so I started to make saddles my own format using the surfaces of the Chinese pots so this is a Ming Dynasty pot and this is my saddle after the Ming Dynasty that's actually at the San Francisco Museum of Art I don't know if they'll ever show it but the the problem with it was is that then I had to make a Ming Dynasty sawhorse for it and it was really hard for me I am I am NOT good with table saws or you know measuring things so steel and clay are much more forgiving so this started to worry me then this second piece was after the Sun dynasty northern Song eleventh dynasty 11th century oh I'm sorry and it's white clay with black slip on it and everywhere where the white is it's been incised away and when I fired it it cracked and I was heartbroken but then I remembered that they would fill the pots the cracks with gold too well to fix it but also to kind of liken it to a wise old person that many things have happened their scars and wrinkles along the way but they're filled with gold because they they result in wisdom and so when I did that the piece just sang and it was acquired by a collector of Chinese ceramics but again I had to make I couldn't put it on just any old sawhorse and so the dilemma was really bad here this is the first saddle actually life my first horse was a racehorse you know retired racehorse mare and she tried to buck me off in a cactus patch once so that inspired this and Arneson said to me have you ever heard of Lucas Samaras and I did these chairs and things with pins that were very very prickly and so that's how I found out about Lucas who I also deeply admire but this one I use porcelain stickers and put them into the holes in the ceramic the low fire ceramic saddle with silicone so that I could replace them but also when you'd brush against them they'd they'd give a little bit and like anything that prickly it was very very fragile and then I got a scholarship to Skowhegan school of painting and sculpture and there was no kilns there which I was really thrilled about Greg I can he sit there you can't see from over here I know he's special I have a show up in Seattle like Greg Kucera gallery that's why anyway so when disco he gained knowing that I wouldn't be able to do ceramics anymore and frankly I was really exhausted from the kiln God necessities and all of the processes in the many times you fire clay and so I went there John had been there at my Jeonbuk my husband had been there the year before and told me you know there's hardwood floors back there that we don't have out in the West and over winter they acquired this fabric like quality so that they maintain their integrity but were soft and flexible and he was just so amazed by them and when I went Wiley was I had him as an undergraduate too and I couldn't understand how you begin to find your imagery as an artist and I loved puns I was an English minor in San Diego State before I transferred up to Davis and everybody hated puns down there and when I got there Wiley like he would have this little watercolor and then 3/4 of the page was filled with a title which was a story which is a full of puns and I couldn't believe my good fortune but he would he'd say well just think of a title and then illustrate it so winter sky again knowing at least that the first thing I was going to do would be a bed of leaves and so this was my first real sculpture and it didn't have to have a base no sawhorse and no table saws I tie I tied all of the the branches together and made it quilt out of these leaves and the idea of beds I left it as an open metaphor for people because you know you're you make love on them you die on them when you jump up and down on them you hide underneath them and I just wanted it to be in the woods there for people to bring the own memories too but the faculty there was they wouldn't critique it because it wasn't made out of art supplies so so this one was definitely made out of art supplies too it got an award for sculpture there but I welded steel which I had bluffed my way into a welded steel sculpture class as a freshman at San Diego State and it was the the most important class I have ever taken it was just fantastic and so I was able to to build if you can weld you can build almost to anything you want so it's covered with chicken wire and then burlap and plaster and in Skowhegan we just had these little the sculpture studios were just little sheds outside and which is now what I have in Hawaii or I did have it really for me my life I didn't want it to be gray I wanted to be in nature but still working and so this was just it really made me come alive as an artist there was a herd of little dairy heifers next to us that I visited with and so I did a self portrait of myself weary and unbalanced losing my footing in love and all of that stuff that that makes you want to lose your balance so this was my first self-portrait and then I went to London England with John buck and I had been an exchange student of Finland and really was into reindeer and caribou imagery and so this was I built in England I cried a lot a California girl in England it was pretty it was rough I'd never been used to the class system either you know and throwing up in California if you couldn't out run somebody you either didn't train hard enough or you just couldn't outrun them you know we we just had equal equal opportunity in many ways then so anyway it was very hard for me to be there but this was it was like a piece of the sky how you apprehend forms in nature how we personify in forms which is kind of how a horse sees to anyway it's a it's a fountain so the garden hose is going up its left hind leg and then it it's um I'd seen a picture of a pitcher in a museum a drawing of it and it was like a colander and you'd use it to water seedlings and having been a Potter I thought it was so beautiful it was a throne picture and you just dip it and the water would spurt out like this so this was like my vessel was sort of leaking and then as Karen mentioned the only I wanted to do real self-portraits but Manuel nari made such beautiful female figures I thought why bother honestly it was I was perfectly satisfied with his work and so I decided the real self-portrait for me would be to be a horse and most of the sculpture that I'd seen of horses were equestrian with generals and usually stallions you know the embodiment of the war machine whoever had horses really conquered those who didn't and they were the same as tanks and MIG Jets and yet I looked at the Chinese and there was a least a portion in their history where the horses were used this one is for sport she's playing polo but they were also used as figures to get you from this world to the next as tuned figures and I've always thought of the horse as a spiritual the carrier of spiritual matters and to help you get to some destination literally and figuratively I had to buy a horse that looked like this so that I could make tonk horses you'll meet him in a bit so then my graduate show at UC Davis in 73 were these big plaster horses and then this show I actually made the one on the right for the Berkeley Art Museum in 74 I guess I can walk over here so this Mayor was my real mayor that I bought with money from a car wreck that I'd been in and she really was me her the point of her but to the point of her shoulder we were the same her head was this long her hoof to her fetlock was this long or cannon bone was this long and so I made the piece I welded the armature right next to her paddock but around the corner so she wouldn't get flashed from the arc welder and instead of using a tape measure to measure things I would just hold the rebar up to my own body and I knew how big it had to be and so it was like the Vitruvian Man The Da Vinci man of this idea of this proportion and the golden mean the golden rectangle and that really that rectangle of the horse's body is really what I have used as my canvas for 40 years now I wanted there plaster that way about 800 pounds I wanted them to look as if they were a Turner painting and that like doubting Thomas you could just stick your hand in them and that they were really kind of an ethereal mist or a piece of the sky the the care about the reindeer kind of pres aged this and then in 74 to 76 I was at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and got offered a show at the Madison Arts Center and I had just visited Secretariat and he was the most valuable horse in the world and completely covered in mud and you know I was so disappointed at first but then I thought oh my god he looks like a New Guinea mud man and it was just so fabulous he really looked like he looked like how wonderful a clay pot looks before it's fired I always felt that firing it just reduced it in in volume and scale and so I made a mixture of mud and plaster and dextran which is a glue that's like on the back of stamps that's a sugar starch and that is re you can wet it down and it will activate again anyway so I dug up dirt which had earthworms ravaged had pine needles all kinds of things in it and smeared it over these paper mache horses that I'd made still the steel armature with chicken wire only John had told me about this paper that they use for taxidermy forms so these I had in my studio and I didn't need five guys to help me move it I could turn him upside down myself and work on the belly and it and move them around and look at them in different arrangements it was so liberating for me a crane does the same thing now for me buddy it was wonderful anyway the the gallery space was had been lit for a print show and when I moved him in there I realized that I wanted him there almost more like dancers or participants in in an event a performance so we didn't like the work at all we just left the walls lit and it was about 30 by 36 and many people wouldn't walk into the room because you had to sidle through it and though they didn't have mouths or teeth people were very worried about it and I the dynamic tension was really great and I got my first review in art forum and the first sentence was Deborah Butterfield horses have no genitals so I couldn't even show it to my parents you know I was like ah they didn't have eyes or no nostrils or mouth either so it was that's really well and then the show went to Zola libera man Gallery in Chicago and then this piece came for my next show there I had moved to Montana John was teaching at Montana State I took a leave of absence from Madison and I thought you know the big horses got a really good response is it only because they're big so I tried to make a small piece and see if it still had the power and I lived in a next to a lodgepole forest and we were out hiking with our ciaochao and I looked at him in the woods saw him a ways away and thought it was a Chow at 50 yards was the grizzly bear at 300 yards you know and saw this eye and like a horse you know spooked but also saw this kind of syncopation of like running a stick along a picket fence so I made this piece that was look it had many legs I thought of the nude descending the stairs that idea of suggesting motion but also suggesting the forest and the environment that it was from and then for my show at Sola Lieberman in 77 I built these works I was very wounded by that review and which otherwise wasn't really bad it was just so weird and so these things have you know protrusions things sticking out everywhere there's even a little deer antler on this one's thigh so they were very horny as we might say but but more than that I thought of mice okay this is me well I had a horse at home really living with us in Montana and I would run out because he'd be flapped out in the snow and the Sun and I thought he was dead because the ribs get so displaced and I'd go and he'd be just like what are you what's your problem I'm just sunbathing and I was fascinated by how their form gets changed when they're laying down it's like life drawing with Wayne Tebow he'd have you come in and they'd give you ten minutes and say draw the naked lady up in the corner so we drew the naked lady then he make us make a grid and make dots you know with your pencil and place the object on the grid finally he let us connect the dots and it was a reclining nude that looked like a landscape or a land mountain a mountain range and you realize that when you think naked lady you draw what you think not what you see and so there's a sort of where I began to think about making the horse that was not a symbol like a sign on the road horse I wanted to have it be something that made you think and feel more than that but so I thought of being a ma a nude model you know corbeil Matisse Monet all of these beautiful reclining nudes and so I thought well I'll have the horses they'll be the naked ladies reclining in the gallery but then the the thing about a horse is that they're a prey animal and so they are built to sleep standing up in case a predator is lurking around but they when they sleep lying down they feel this because they feel confident so for me I thought it's a very feminist statement to say all right the wolf predator critics are slouching around but I am brave and I'm just gonna take a rest here in this gallery because I I'll let myself be vulnerable because I'm powerful and so that was a statement but then also it was a pun about the figure-ground relationship that the horse really was made of the ground this is again steel with a chicken wire armature and then mud with ground paper and dextran and grasses grass hay so it's about an inch thick so it's hollow so we could lift it up and carry it and so for me it really became the metaphor for the the horse representing the earth or being the earth veera list had this horse for years and they went to good places they went to the Whitney and the DeRosa or and others another one there they went all kinds of places it was like shocking actually I didn't sell this work in Chicago and I was very depressed and roberta lieberman took the slides to eivin carpet okay harris gallery and because he would look at people's work and he said this is marvelous we'll put it in a group show in the fall and i think this is maybe february and then he called me in april and said young lady how would you feel about having a one-person show next month in new york hmm i could adjust and because I hadn't sold it it was in a warehouse and they were able to ship it and I had a show there I had I don't know four shows with him I think it was it was amazing so sometimes the thing that you think is the worst thing ends up being a great thing this piece was one of the not great things it was about my father's death and I got to be in a show at the albright-knox Museum in Buffalo and they couldn't if they could afford to ship the work but not me so I made a piece that I sent them a compass and said put them north south east and west and put their noses three feet apart and it was for me two different experiences I looked at a book on Navajo sand paintings at the Art Institute in Chicago and it showed a little girl sitting in the middle of this painting with the four directions of the universe being healed and I thought oh I want that and then one of my first sculptures in Madison was at from the Circus World Museum of a Percheron baggage horse they wanted to commemorate the horses that did all the work putting up the tents and hauling the wagons and things and so my REIT field research was to go in a pasture with 8 Percherons and I would go out there you know in their heads were this big there were giants and they would all come around me and nuzzle me and I would do that thing the thing that they do and encounter groups you know I would just fall backwards and they would catch me with their noses and push me up and it was just I thought so I needed to do this but the winter that this happened was the coldest winter we'd ever had so I had to go to the nursery and they had a pile of dirt and use a pickaxe because it was just frozen solid and then the sticks I skied down our hill and broke off branches and then took my horse and pulled and drugged them out to the road and then got the chains on the truck it was like I'm like why can't I just order this from an art supply catalog but because it was you know about my dad it became clear that it was about suffering and then this piece came echoing back to the piece with the mini legs and again the lodgepole forest and i went to get these these lodgepole pieces and got attacked by ground hörmann Hornets I got 56 stings it was there's a lot of things connected with making this stuff that people say how long does it take you to make this well it doesn't take me very long to make stuff but getting ready to make stuff takes a long time anyway this one was the other pieces I wanted them to look like I'd maybe bulldozed a flooded Creek that had overflowed and and made this shape that ambiguously became a horse but in this one by placing the sticks on it it was a very human thing and I was thinking of architecture or possibly animal architecture but in this case very much a teepee and also looking like the rays of light coming that this horse is basking or it could be a bonfire there she is I was very inspired by Magritte and this was at Hansen fuller gallery in San Francisco and we had to bring everything in with a crane and Diana fuller was having it kind of trying to keep it together but you can see there's well there that's the horse but there the whole gallery was just solid sawdust and tree branches and so it was a little disturbing and then I had another show in New York at ok Harris and I we had moved to our wood finally bought our own little farm and it had three rows of fencing one next to the other that had never been torn down and so I made 29 trips to the dump and as I was doing it I realized gosh you know I'm buying chicken wire and rebar I could be using some of this old metal to make armatures and so I just started playing with the material sticking all the broken stuff through it and then threw mud on it and I love the piece but then I realized you know I'm just this is this thing I'm the woman who does mud horses and realize it it was frosting on a cake that probably didn't need frosting and this is another piece from from this mission of this all this old hard wire of fencing it's just woven square wiring and when you roll it up it's very springy and it it will explode and cut you poke your eye out and so the prudent thing to do is to stick a stick through it to keep it from unraveling so this horse is just completely held together like this with these sticks and they say that a horse can return to the wild in three weeks and so I think that someday these sticks will all rot and then the wire will explode out of the armature and this again the other pieces were all very much about surface I was very inspired by Jacquie Windsor's work how it was what it was from the inside all the way out and wanted to not deal with just the surface of the piece but to look with inside and a lot of my friends were becoming pregnant at the time so I was thinking about the mysteries of the body and also had a mare who was pregnant at that time so they became almost like x-ray drawings the work is very much about drawing I believe and then I got a Guggenheim grant and an offer to go to the Israel Museum to build work and live there for a month excuse me so what I did is drive around and collect debris from many of the wars and things and built this work in the Billy Rose sculpture garden it was really it was so exhausting but but amazing this was Jacob's Ladder there were Arab construction workers building a new building and they had these ladders that I'd never seen before they're wider at the bottom and they they're narrow at the top so they look like they're taller than they are but they would bring me coffee and pieces of metal every day and this is avi my assistant and I welding out in the sculpture garden we had a lot of tourists giving us a lot of advice and this is this piece it's two layers of really delicate steel gauze with even more fragile rusted metal and I thought of it as a map of the world that's just pieced together and it's just so incredibly fragile and yet somehow conserved as it is it was wishful thinking and this is my warhorse around Israel they were blown up tanks and troop carriers that they keep rust-oleum by the side of the road as memories of of wars and battles and so this is the first one that I have to say is kind of a dead horse it's at the contemporary Museum in Chicago and then in 1980 82 82 I had a show that traveled to about 12 museums it started the Hansen Fuller gallery got it going and this was its incarnation at the Walker Art Center there was a beautiful white terrazzo floor so the pieces look like they were just on an ice pond floating this one was from the wrecked Catholic school rosary school and so it's name is rosary and it was the heating system that was crushed and covered with this pink brick dust and I just thought it was a very Catholic looking horse but that's in the collection of the Walker and then gosh I there's so many horses I'm only giving you a few from each year this is 1986 we were invited to go to Hawaii Thurston and Lila twig Smith he had started a little gallery at the Honolulu Advertiser newspapers ground floor beautiful contemporary space because there was no contemporary space in Honolulu and he said you know I could ship your work from Montana but it's cheaper to ship you and John and you can stay in my home for three months on the Big Island and we did and it changed our lives so the other thing that was really important for me is that I hadn't done much colored work because it it takes such a long time to collect enough colored metal but in Hawaii all the roofs are colored steel so I had an abundant supply so I built five pieces there in a month with an assistant I borrowed from the volcano Art Center this is maluhia and this is Oh ha Lulla Lulla and it was of my mare who was I she'd had two foals with me and she always had them at like 10 after 1 or something and I was like 10 minutes late and she was sort of looking at me with this baby coming out looking at her watch like you know you're late but having just had a baby myself I I was this was a it was a jewel ation for her how graceful she was and how well she handled it I was in awe and then this was the volcano fountain it's 1,600 feet in Hawaii and we went out into the the night there was a full moon and the volcano and there was this horse standing there and twigs Smith had said to us you know John said I'll give you my life's work for some land here so he said I'll trade you art I have to see if one of my daughter's wants to buy this line first she is first right and I said to John we're gonna get the land because you know Pele has presented herself to us and he called her next morning and said she doesn't want it so we were able to to get four acres of coffee land in Kona and build our own house and studio there and then I came back from there in 86 and had been collecting enough steel to make this piece I it was my first show in New York with Ed Thorpe gallery and this is after the coat of many colors and and Chief Joseph and the Appaloosa horses his name is Joseph it's and this just shows I think you'll see in my newer work this is how I work there's just stuff all over the floor and then I clean it all up and there's this horse that's very formal but it does there is this relationship between the figure and the ground and stuff leaps up onto the horse and sometimes gets cut off or torn off ground off and so I I'm more and more interested in the environment around the piece as their legs get longer sometimes there's not enough going on around the ground this is riot I think this is the one that's in Delaware this was old signage and it it made me think of horse brands and also the dressage arena has letters at which you do certain movements and we also refer to a trained horse as a schoolmaster so I loved both the the formal composition of the letters but the the context and this is a piece that I was able to keep named Palma because it reminded me of Picasso and the mouth was very it's sort of screaming like in Guernica which you can't see but it was very female and my husband's mothers named Palma so it was a kind of a contraction of Paloma I really wanted to see how much I could make things feel like a horse but have it still be so abstract and I think at this point the seal it was just wonderful kind of a wonderful dialogue with between cutting and welding and adding and subtracting this is iike Sookie who was a famous samurai legend and this was old like a 34 Chevy or something that we dug up in a dump in Gallatin Gateway and I loved the holes in it it reminded me of samurai armor and this is my first bronze piece it's at the Walker Art Center Martin Friedman called and said we need a piece for outdoors were building a sculpture garden and I said well I don't my work can't go outside and he said we'll find a way and I met him for dinner and he had Jim dine with him it was in Cody Wyoming and Jim was telling me about this man Mark Anderson at the Walla Walla foundry that was starting a casting facility and so Mark came out I had a brand new baby Wilder and looked at my slides and said I think you should just drive a truckload of sticks to Walla Walla we'll cast him in bronze and then you weld a horse out of it and that's how it began and it was really the most fun I think I've ever had and this is my old studio in Hawaii which really is just a roof and we'd send bronze sticks over to Hawaii and Mark and I would weld an armature and then this is passion fruit vines that I'm wrapping around it and then I'd have to ship it back to Walla Walla in a container where they take things apart and cast them clickers and this is a piece it's actually at the Kansas City Zoo but this shows the piece in bronze then this was a commission for the Denver Art Museum they wanted three horses but they wanted one that kids could climb on and a friend from Germany had given me Daniela Greinke her dad was a major sponsor of Edie Keene Holtz or loved his work and sponsored him and she gave me her young rider horse from from Berlin and this horse would love to he would lay like this and the cat would curl up with him and he loved you to sit with him and curl up and when I was at a show I'd give him like 12 carats and then he would do really well if I didn't feed the meter not so good but I thought he was the perfect horse to make it so that the children could climb on it because he would have liked it this was my other mayor PJ but this is Argus the cow herd like the myth with all the eyes and so this is birch and Aspen and this is second daughter this is a piece called Walla Walla and this right hind leg is the bogan via vine from Bob our innocence back porch and I was like the witch in Hansel and Gretel every time I go by that vine I pinch it and wish it died you know and finally it worked and they brought it up to the foundry for me so it's it's one of my the foundation legs of of this horse and of my work Bob was a fantastic teacher he was really kind of mean he'd loved to be the devil's advocate not mean he was just hard-ass but you would be there he worked at night because he lived in Davis most everybody commuted and he would be watching him/her help in a mix clay watching build stuff in the studio watch him fire it many times glaze under glaze over glaze Luster's and then watch him photograph it help him put in crate help him drive it down to the gallery in San Francisco go to the opening and then read a review I mean it was just I don't know it was just an amazing point in time where you were able to to experience that this was from manzanita it was a commission in California and I never got to work with that kind of wood before so it was thrilling and this is my palette this is my this is my green and this is my steel studio oh this is the good stuff anyway it you can see here how I'll make that shape of the body I actually lay it out on the floor whether it's sticks or steel or bronze sticks I make this horse body and lay it on the floor weld it together we we hold it up on the crane as high as it should be and I might make adjustments and then we weld pieces for the the front legs and then for the hind legs and then weld the legs on so it's always stable and able to stand up by itself but then I work with it like this it's really more like an abstract painting adding and subtracting until I sort of know who the horse is and then I add the neck in the head and the tail to personify it but before that it's really about what's inside of it this is a concrete I just love I love stuff I love different kinds of metal I am fascinated by how matter hangs together I love how LED is soft and droopy in like butter and copper bends so easily and is one wonderful and difficult to weld but then it will it will break and steel you can bend forever and then bra cast bronze we manipulate those sticks quite a bit and you can bend them at a certain point they they're kind of crystallized because they're cast and then they break but I love for me I love the the individual mass the weight the volume of handling pieces of steel is so different than handling bronze or copper and there's just something about that weight and balance that I particularly enjoy this is what I did with myself on 9/11 I I didn't know how to process this whole thing so I went in the studio called White Crane and there's a boogie woogie and this was turning its head one of my favorite pieces and this is Hawaii the Big Island which is from the same I made at the same time I made von Akana it's Ohio wood from the mountainside in on the Big Island oh he is a hardwood that's really the most prolific tree on the Big Island the flower from it is called Li hua and where I live the yellow lei hua is common which is just in this one strip about a mile wide and so it's a sacred hula flower so for me I feel like I've almost moved on from being a horse worshipper to being a tree worshipper these trees are like truffula trees from dr. Seuss there they're covered with these insane flowers but when they die they're so beautiful and we bought our land we have a hundred acres at 3,400 feet because of all the dead trees but again here I was I named it Hawaii because I thought of it as an island a geological formation but you can see the reclining nude you can see how the weight is is on her her right shoulder and her right hip and also the work doesn't move they're not rearing or running but I feel like you I want you to be able to internalize this the weight in the feeling in your body and kind of anticipate what the motion might be next so it's almost like putting on a mask or something where you participate and here's Mona Cana which means Montana in Hawaiian I gathered all this wood in Hawaii and had to pressure wash it and brush it and clean it to get it through the AG inspections and send it to Walla Walla where I built these three pieces two of which I kept so I think it's telling you that this is my favorite work this is my my two chrome premiers they're long dead now but Vickie and Isabel and this is Isabel from the same wood she's visiting China at the Embassy Max Baucus is our ambassador to China and our former Montana senator and I'm showing you some horses now that it were my models throughout the past 30 years this is Hoover who is my Tong dynasty horse this is at the margulies collection in Florida this was Rex who he's very old here who was the we had the therapeutic riding program at my barn and he was a therapeutic horse of the year for the Northwest and second for the whole country we are on CBS Sunday morning we had a cart with a wheelchair that you could drive a wheelchair into and he was a magnificent third level dressage horse and therapy horse this is Rex this is is money my first warm blood this was Wilfred Willie this is Captain he's still alive he's very old he's a cow horse we only I mainly after Asajj horses but I like to have one cow horse that I can get on and go help people herd cows this is Donita she's like 17 3 that was when she was young and this is Donita that was at la louver and actually they're down in Louisville now she and her partner this is spotty who was very young there he just won the intermediary 1 championship in the northwest he's in dressage he's like a lip is on with spots and these are gulls in the cottonwood trees so I used those as the spots and this is my new mayor Dan SIA and this is her and this is my son Hunter with indelible which is going to go to a Children's Hospital in Iowa City this was at Zola Lieberman gallery there were these columns in this than the old gallery that I have fought with for 20-some years there it's just so giant and so we just put this one piece in this space that was probably 40 by 40 and it weighed 4,000 pounds but you can see the columns turn to saplings my clicker is a little stubborn did I skip one no this is next to my studio in Walla Walla the foundry built me a studio that I leased from them and part of the thing was that there is this greenhouse that was there from the 60s that we took out all the tables and repurposed it because my materials get covered with snow and it's actually really hard for me to work in Montana in the winter everything's covered with snow and then even the mountains I can't get up on the roads and so I just every time I go to the foundry I'd drive a load of sticks from Montana and this has actually become too small but it's 90 by a hundred and twenty I'm a greedy person it shows me working the problem with the greenhouse is it can it's very nice now but it can be like a hundred and thirty in there in this summer but you know I steel myself and go in and drag the sticks in but I do love working in there and sometimes deer will go in there like there were four deer in there a few weeks ago this shows the ceramic shell and they're getting ready to cast this I just wanted to show you a few shots of the foundry and how this works so they'll coat the wood with ceramic shell and then burn it out and vacuum the ash or pressure wash the ash out and then they'll sprue it up and then make a plaster mold and I think that's what this is it's all got wax sprues they'll they'll swish the wax in the the burnt-out ceramic shell and core it and then they'll put a traditional plaster mold around that so that and then they'll burn out the wax so it's first lost stick and then it's lost wax and the ceramic shell the foundry pretty much designed this just for me the ceramic shell gives you the beautiful texture of the wood but it's not really strong enough for the size of things we're trying to pour into so when they get that out then they back it up with a plaster so then they have the strength and the the the beautiful texture so it's like a twice baked potato and it's very it costs a lot to do that but they found that when they towed it up the numbers it was actually cheaper because they were spending less time tooling and in the welding shop and it looked fresher so there was a better outcome as well this is Mark Anderson they're getting ready to pour here this shows the bronze going into the the mold 2300 degrees and this is like this is a piece pine forest I think or I don't know which one but these are pieces of bronze that are getting ready to be welded onto a horse so you can see what it looks like raw okay so I got there and there's this piece and I couldn't live with it I'm like I hate the way the head the neck is too long the head is attached wrong so we cut the head off do you see it hanging there on my crane and I was able to that's hard to see isn't it well there's the head is a better view so I was able to weld it back on and this shows how I put the color on with a weed burner and two types of acid ferric nitrate and sulfur rated potash liver of sulfur and it's it's rough to do in the summer because you you really get a lot of reflected heat but the acids turn colors at different temperatures and then I use white paint to build up an opaque layer so that the the ferric nitrate turns kind of a red different shades of red and orange so this is the journey of this horse this is in New York at the first gallery I showed with an of two nazy gallery on the sixth floor and Soho or Chelsea sorry these are the rigors that do richard serra comes another but look at that i love this that he's actually comforting the horse this was just a random shot this is the Ascension oops okay yeah the clicker is being a little sticky forgive me I started doing these pieces out of bronze referring back to the bud pieces with the things leaning on them I don't know I maybe because I'm blind or whatever that the older I get the bigger the work is getting the taller they are and then there's all of this space underneath them that needs to be activated so I just started leaving some of the stuff around that I was working with and I don't know I think this is fish traps it's really one of my favorite pieces and this is a piece Mille out of a fire that was really near our house which you'll see more of later we had to evacuate and this is from la louver really looking glass thank you I think this was Paula England gallery and this was storm castle this was it la louver and then now great Kucera house it this is also one of my favorite pieces it's just you know when I'm in the woods there's just you just see these compositions and then like one time my horse and I and Davis were riding along a road and we both saw a wild boar in the ditch and I nearly spooked off of her but she like went almost to her knees and was shaking and her heart was pounding and then we got it together and it was a log it was a hollow log with some branches on it and we were both so mortified and shamed that we kind of you know staggered down the road but I kind of horses see they they look at the silhouette they can tell like if a mare is in heat by their silhouette they can tell if they're angry there's so many the the ears the face you know they can see so much by the silhouette and I think I'm the same way I start in the same way as a horse and I see forms like that in the woods but so anyway I guess the work is in a way getting more literal this is now Hawaii this is a piece mark Anderson and John went down risked their lives on this beach on the North Shore at the birthplace of Kamehameha and this is the name of this piece thirst and trick Smith gave me this old canoe eaten with termites an ancient Hawaiian canoe part and that's in there and anyway I loved working there in the winter because for one thing nature is so different ferns and things they just think of plants have such exotic opportunities there in Montana plants have to be very careful and and in Hawaii they can do silly and frivolous things this is where we live this is a from our house this is who all alive volcano it looks more like Africa than what you think of Hawaii and these are Ohio trees here in the foreground and these are my compatriots we had three wild horses and two wild donkeys the horses have passed away they must have been 40 I think that donkeys are at least 40 but these are Ohia and koa trees and this is where I mean I think I'm becoming a real a realist and this is the the elders the Hopf who ferns when this is my studio there and my assistant and this is my husband John helping me this is a koa tree and this is a fallen tree which reminds me of my first work with the mud and sticks but you can see how the pattern and the geometry is just so exciting and different this is from the ohia Ohia roots and this is the the trees die in such a beautiful way and you think they're dead and then these little sprigs of flowers and leaves will come out and so this is what I'm trying to to find in the work a small piece with the litter underneath it and Aloha and then Iceland I've gone over there for a couple of months the last three years working at a fellow sculptors horse farm she has these beautiful horses and and invited us to use her studio and stay with her so we are there for a month lest not this summer but the one before and we'll go again next year and we're not very good tourists so when we go somewhere it's really wonderful this is sniffles honest look at that point of that volcano up there on the right this is where I collected a lot of material on this beach they're not any pieces hardly any wood in Iceland so I I started using marine debris plastic and flotsam and jetsam and you can see how tiny these horses are my leg is hanging down and I always made fun of them I thought they look like my little pony well I was mistaken they are lion horses I've never had more fun in my life and they're so brave partly they're brave because they have no predators on Iceland my horses we actually have wolves and bears and mountain lions and there are many things to be afraid of in Montana mmm hey who's he and then our friends took us to this their friend's house they have an Eider duck farm it's been three generations and so they have a peninsula that they fenced off so that foxes and dogs can't get to it and the Ducks just return on their own and they make little nesting boxes for them and some of them just they have these little holes and you know it's bleak and windy and cold but it's a beneficial relationship for both the Ducks I think sit for three weeks or something in a few days before they're going to hatch they have little colored flags around each nest and literally you could pet this duck because they're so broody they just sit there and won't move so they have little flags about when they started nesting and about three or four days before they're going to hatch they they because the the Ducks pluck they're down off of their chest to line the nest so the farmer goes in and plucks all of the it's a dirty smelly mess because they eat fish you can imagine they pluck the eiderdown out and replace it with straw or hay and since they leave the nest immediately it works fine for everybody and I tore down like a pillow is like I don't know $4,000 it's they use it to line astronaut vests and fighter pilot this it's the one thing in the world that doesn't crush and it's just the lightest thing but anyway this was a great source this is Hunter's girlfriend Emma this is where one of the few places the wood comes in from Russia and Norway and washes up this is on the very northern tip of Iceland and so this is where I got a lot of great stuff and this is an Icelandic sheep dog but behind him or some old eiderdown Eider duck boxes that I ended up using in this piece called frown you can see the blue hip is part of this shaped box so I made that in Iceland and I made a piece for our hostess and her cat was in love with it and this is my trip home I'm a piece that I made at home and this one was at Englund Gilbert gallery and I'll show we had of work done in at this woman's studio in Iceland third a Sigrid Otter and this is bronze actually and then this is a trip to Cody for the most recent work I've been doing this is almost this kind of situation kind of gives me a heart attack I really have to deep breathe and try to be calm because there's so much wood this is the big one and this is a piece pine forest I guess that's that gray Kucera right now powder so that was pine different kinds of pine I think whitebark pine and then this is the roots of these trees that were in a reservoir that was a valley that was flooded to make a reservoir so they're very old and worn and this is from Hawaii it's a Ohia piece and then I got this chance I've read in the newspaper that the Gulf of Alaska keepers this volunteer group had organized all these trips to Prince William Sound to various islands in a lot along Alaska because so much debris had washed ashore from the tsunami in Japan and some weird thing happened they they were gonna they brought it down I mean they would go out on little float boats and collect pieces of styrofoam a half an inch wide because he may find all these birds bodies that the skeletons were just there with filled with plastic debris and this happens all over the world it doesn't need to be it happens in ice and it happens everywhere but anyway they they brought the material down to Seattle and they were going to have volunteers sort through it and recycle it something went wrong it was at waste management something with the city some political thing they weren't allowed to do it they made them put it in the landfill and the guys at waste management snuck me in I had to get in this dumpster was like a hundred and thirty degrees with a tarp over it and my assistant from the foundry and I got this stuff out of there I had I rented a u-haul and drove it to the foundry do you see this giant fish float but do you see this little tree there is hope anyway and then the other guy oh I didn't know I had a close-up so then I built this piece this is the armature it's bronze wood and rock that I you know patina'd and then put this plastic on it and this piece is at casera right now the 3 Sorrows earthquake or earthquake tsunami meltdown from Gretl air licks book facing the wave which is the most beautiful poetic thing she just jumped on a plane after the event and went over there and oh it's just beautiful but she wrote a small piece for the little cat of the catalogue for the show but anyway I have so much of this debris they the waste management guy slipped me in and I it was like a grab bag I got these big white plastic bags full of this stuff that I couldn't tell what was in there and so I just kind of felt it and and brought home what I thought would work and I I did get some great stuff I have a lot of plastic bottles to recycle too but I mean some of this stuff was like crushed helmets and baby shoes and a lot of you know Japanese bottles and things and and so I tried there's a few helmets in here in one part of a shoe I tried to keep it more abstract I thought I felt I didn't want to take advantage of the situation and I asked Keiko Hara a friend and Walla Walla painter she taught there for many years I said is this okay you know is this appropriate and she thought it was and I said do you think I should have a shrine on the wall or something and she thought a long time and she said no this is the shrine the horses the shrine and I think almost it reminds me of the peace in Jerusalem that's like the map of the world it's almost like the the blue plastic is is the ocean and the horse is you know living beings on the earth so anyway this piece I felt I wanted to make it as formal as I could and it was thrilling to work with formally but I think it's very evocative and then we put a video on the wall of the gallery showing them collecting this stuff in Alaska and you actually could recognize individual characters that are in the piece this is in the gallery in Seattle and it looks like it just washed in through the door you know and eddie'd up in the corner and this is a small piece from the same material that's in bronze he's side by which this man in Japan you know what happened is after the the nuclear event everybody was evacuated but the pets the horses that the farm animals were stuck there with no food some of some horses were stuck in stalls so these people mostly old people went in to to feed them and care for them and this man who owns racehorses rescued 200 horses and is taking care of them so he's cybo is the it means a misplaced horse or a horse with no place to be and so there's a rescue society to help take care of these animals and then right before my last trip to Walla Walla this is about two and a half weeks ago right before eight inches of snow this Milley fire came up behind us it was five miles from my house for a month we had to evacuate all the art and I had nine people's horses at my barn we have a barn and our studios are a mile and a half away from our house which is near this canyon and so I went up and got this material but I it was wonderful because little trees are starting to come up and I don't know I'm kind of a person who I'm ashamed of myself but when there's a tornado or something I'm just like I love looking at the stuff and so this forest fire was the same I mean there's just such in tragedy as well and these are the little trees coming up everywhere and this is in the studio so you can see the bronze armature how I begin and what's wonderful about having this studio in Walla Walla now is that I can start with working with I don't have to go too far with the bronze armature I can start working with the wood material we can cut away armature we don't need and replace it somewhere else where it will fit in with what I'm doing so it's a real plastic process but this shows so we here we've painted the armature black so I could see what I was doing but there you can see how it how abstract it really is and then this is how I would like to see the piece finished I think this is about it oh and this is a giant piece that's going with indelible to Iowa City and I'm working on the patina right now but this shows breanne one of my assistants shows you how big it is that's big these two are gonna be in Iowa City and this shows them working on it in the metal shop and that's Tenuta and Vicki Hearn is one of the people that I love she was a poet and horse trainer dog trainer and I just wanted to say some of the things she said it seems so relevant right now there is cruelty and ruthlessness and above all there are failures of imagination unhappiness caused by someone's being unable to imagine what it would be like to be someone else and there are people who describe training as a process of discussing with animals the attributes of God a human discussion in which the human listens as much as she talks which I think she's referring to Martin Buber and the I Val relationship anyway and then 20 years ago I was here with little boys I was in a show at the white house we were stranded in a blizzard here for five days it was a memorable experience thank you that was long I'm sorry should we just go to the reception do any questions well we we'd be happy to go upstairs to the reception and perhaps if you have questions you can ask them up there thank you once again

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